Craziest Theories for Wes Anderson’s Upcoming Sci-Fi Film
Ever since Wes Anderson announced his new sci-fi film, Asteroid City, fans have been eagerly speculating about what the renowned filmmaker has in store for them. Known for his signature style of symmetrical cinematography, pastel color palettes, and dark humor with deadpan deliveries, Anderson never fails to create specifically crafted film worlds. This time, he takes us to the 1950s desert set piece in Asteroid City, where he hopes to recapture the magic that made audiences fall in love with his work.
While Anderson’s 2021 feature film, The French Dispatch, was visually stunning, it lacked the real human emotions that his earlier films possessed. Anderson aficionados were left wanting more, but the trailer for Asteroid City is already building anticipation and satisfaction. Set in a fictional desert town during a renowned stargazing event, the film promises everything that Anderson fans look for in a cinematic story – from an ensemble of characters with unusual professions and backgrounds to elegant set designs with seemingly hand-painted skies.
In Asteroid City, everyone is looking towards the sky, but there are mentions of people – or other lifeforms – potentially looking back down at us. Aliens seem to be a central plot point or general conflict that affects everyone in the story, although it’s not exactly revealed what kind of alien it is, who it is played by, or what the aliens want. Alien narratives often deal with themes such as satirical existentialism, relationship with the Father, and personal storytelling – all Anderson staples. However, given what the world has gone through since 2020, there’s a good chance that Asteroid City utilizes alien imagery to symbolically explore themes of isolation and self-evaluation.
As aliens land in Anderson’s fictional Asteroid City, the characters are subjected to a wave of panic and a subsequent quarantine. Forced to stay inside, many of the protagonists must learn to confront their personal qualms. Themes of mortality, family, and self-examination resonate with our experience during quarantine, and many were quick to point this out at Asteroid City’s Cannes premiere early this year. Anderson’s film might have been the burst of inspiration that he needed to revitalize his creativity, bringing back notions of self-examination and self-evaluation to the surface.
It remains to be seen how Anderson will explore these themes in Asteroid City, but with his unique style and a cast that includes Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, and Adrien Brody, audiences can expect a quirky and thought-provoking journey. Anderson’s attention to detail and his ability to create fully-realized worlds will undoubtedly make Asteroid City a cinematic experience to remember.
Since the announcement of Wes Anderson’s new sci-fi film Asteroid City in late 2020, many fans have been speculating about what the quirky auteur has been brewing behind the scenes. Ubiquitously known for symmetrical cinematography, pastel color palettes, and dark humor with deadpan deliveries, Anderson looks to continue his line of specifically crafted film worlds with the 1950s desert set piece in Asteroid City.
Though he’s nearly cemented his legacy as an undeniably singular figure in film, there seems to be a lot on the line for the long-standing director. His 2021 feature film The French Dispatch was a decadent masterpiece filled to the brim with every Andersonian element known to humanity: brilliant puppetry, beautifully crafted miniatures, elaborate set design, detailed costuming, and an ensemble of amazing creative performances from everyone in the cast, like Frances McDormand, Jeffery Wright, and Benicio del Toro, as well as the crew, such as cinematographer Robert Yeoman, composer Alexandre Desplat, and production designer Adam Stockhausen.
But there was something inherently missing from the multilayered anthology piece, something that has been missing from Anderson’s films since the release of his 2014 magnum opus The Grand Budapest Hotel. As if lost amongst the artifice and the design, Anderson’s recent films appear empty of any real human emotions. Vox’s Alissa Wilkinson describes the film as having an “eponymous listlessness and indifference [as] its entire emotional effect.” Compared to Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) and Moonrise Kingdom (2012), The French Dispatch is excruciatingly underwhelming while suffering from a dearth of liveliness and spontaneity.
Even amidst our COVID-entrenched lives and before the 2021 release of The French DispatchWes Anderson and his ragtag team of quirky creatives packed up their bags and headed to the desert to begin filming on what we now know as Asteroid City. While reteaming with frequent collaborator and writer Roman Coppola, Anderson hopes to recapture the magic so many fans originally fell in love with. With a trailer both satisfying and building anticipation, Asteroid City is certainly set to make a big impact.
Aliens and the Unknown
Set in a fictional desert town during the festivities of a renowned stargazing event, Asteroid City offers everything Wes Anderson looks for in a cinematic story, from an ensemble of characters with unusual professions and backgrounds to elegant set designs with seemingly hand-painted skies. However, while everyone in Asteroid City will be looking towards the sky, there are mentions of people – or other lifeforms – potentially looking back down at us.
As the trailers reveal, aliens seem to be a central plot point or general conflict that affects everyone in the story, though it’s not exactly revealed what kind of alien it is, who it is played by, or what the aliens want. There are many themes and messages that can arise from alien narratives, chief among them are Anderson staples such as satirical existentialism, relationship with the Father, and personal storytelling. But there are other potential paths that Anderson could explore with this.
Recently, Jordan Peele’s Nope (2022) utilized aliens as a way to comment on society’s obsession with spectacle and virality. With aspects of Asteroid City centered around a theater play written by one of the characters and Scarlett Johanssen’s Midge Campbell being described as a famous actor, there’s reason to assume the movie could delve into similar themes and topics as Peele’s action sci-fi flick.
And, as it relates to the 1950s setting when monster movies like The Thing From Another World (1951), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), and Tarantula (1955) “reflected the paranoia and anxiety of the time period [by featuring] alien invasions, nuclear disasters, and other catastrophic events that served as metaphors for the dangers of the Cold War,” Asteroid City may be taking a page out of cinema’s history books by expressing contemporary fears and anxieties through Wes Anderson’s stylistic imagination.
Maybe it’s a commentary on anti-immigration, maybe it’s a take on diversity and inclusion. It could be many things. However, given what the world has gone through since 2020, there’s a good chance Asteroid City utilizes alien imagery to symbolically explore themes of isolation and self-evaluation.
Quarantine and Confronting the Self
When examining society’s contemporary fears and anxieties, the COVID-19 pandemic certainly had a large impact on our contemporary lives. The globally sanctioned quarantine forced everyone to confront themselves in ways society has never had the chance to before. As uncertainty and cultural divide clawed at our locked doors, we were all invited to face existentialism and mortality head-on. As a thoughtful invitation into the new decade, the quarantine has become a cultural event that binds us all.
As aliens land in Anderson’s fictional Asteroid Citythe characters are subjected to a wave of panic and a subsequent quarantine. Forced to stay inside, many of the protagonists must learn to confront their personal qualms. Augie Steenbeck (Jason Schwartzman) admits that he hasn’t told his children about their deceased mother, presumably unable to accept the truth himself. These themes of mortality, family, and self-examination resonate with our experience during quarantine, and many were quick to point this out at Asteroid City’s Cannes premiere early this year.
While we were all stuck baking rustic bread and adopting stray cats, Wes Anderson took the time to craft a story that expresses the fears of our time. And this might have been the burst of inspiration that Anderson needed to revitalize his creativity. Some aspects of the pandemic call for classic Andersonisms like questioning the family unit, brutal self-awareness, and adventurous hobby accumulation. After a few years of reflection, Asteroid City may be the perfect mirror to bring those notions of self-examination and self-evaluation back to the surface.